My contention is that it does not fit the definition, but is an easy slogan. "Justification" is much more than that and it's not even that!
It is an act, process or state of being justified by God and justification means "vindication". This is from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Therefore, what is "vindication"? It's when a person is not blamed for the offense(s) and is found not-guilty. (ibid), not because the person is innocent, but because of a "technicality". The judge has seen remorse, sorrow and repentance and another became security for you.
According to Strong's concordance "justify" in the context of righteousness means "to regard as innocent" and "free". It's being "right". (text: justified from Romans 3:28 "a man is justified by faith"). "Regard" is the keyword. It doesn't mean that there was no offense, but that the offense is somehow covered. How so?
A born-again person is redeemed.
Galatians 3:13a "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us:"Let's take a look at "redemption". The sinner is guilty as charged. Here's the charge:
Romans 3:23 "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;"Since we all have sinned, either we have to pay the price or someone does. That's just like civil law. If there is a crime someone pays. God's justice is no different. "Paying that price" is redemption. Jesus bought our freedom by paying with his own blood. His blood was the ransom price. It was the currency of our salvation which the bondsman used to pay security to the Court.
By Jesus paying the price we are "justified". We are no longer blamed for our past sins. They are forgiven! Since the sinner is vindicated we're no longer blamed, but because we're no longer blamed does not mean that "it's as if we never sinned". Justification is as if we have indeed sinned, but we're redeemed by Jesus.
We're told that God blots out our sins and forgets them:
Isaiah 43:25 "I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins."God chooses to put our past behind him. He has the power to remember and to forget! He chooses to blot our sins (covered by his blood) from his memory. He will never hold forgiven sins against us, but we're never to forget what the blood of Jesus did for us:
1 Corinthians 11:25 "After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, this cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me."When we sup with the Lord, we are to remember what he did for us and what! He took our own guilt upon himself and redeemed us with the blood, symbolized in remembrance by the "cup". God is able to forget our sins, but we're not! "It is as if we sinned, but were forgiven and redeemed!". "Justification" is forgetting on God's part, but not ours! We are to remember why we are forgiven! It is as if it happened and we're never to forget it!
Everyone will be judged at the "Great White Throne Judgment":
Revelation 20:12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.Since God "forgets" forgiven sin, then those "justified" are judged "righteous" although they are sinners. They still did the sin, but it's not brought up in God's court. The evidence which will damn the accused is suppressed and any witnesses who saw the past sins are recused. However, at the judgment when the judge says "well done good and faithful servant" (Matthew 35:21), he has obviously "forgotten" the life of a sinner, but you have not and should not. When those words are spoken it's a time for rejoicing for your salvation because you remember what you deserve! In your sin, God made you righteous. You are then justified by grace.
Never, ever forget! It's not "just as if you've never sinned". It's "as if you have been made righteous"!